Dick Vincent: 25 Years a Streaker
By David Blaikie, Ultramarathon World
Dick Vincent is founder and director of the Escarpment Trail Run.
(Note from the website editor: This article was written in 2000. Dick's running streak has now reached 30 years.)
Palenville, New York (UW) - Dick Vincent plans to celebrate 25 years as a streak runner on Sunday, April 23,  by quietly logging a solitary marathon over familiar roads north of his New York State home. His run will begin in Catskill, about 10 miles from here, take him north to Coxsackie and back to the starting point again.
And that will be it -- 25 years of running without missing a day on the roads. "I may call a few friends to celebrate afterward, but I have nothing special planned," says Vincent. "It's a big deal, but it's not a big deal. The main thing is just to keep going every day."
Years ago, Vincent organized a certified half marathon race on the same route and it seemed as good a place as any to choose for his anniversary run. "Why not?" he asks. One of two friends may join him for a few miles, or they may not. The only thing certain is that he will go out and do the run.
When he hit 20 years in his running streak, he thought of throwing a big party and inviting all his running friends to celebrate. But he never got around it and now that the streak has reached 25 years, little has changed. "Yes, I thought about it again, but it would have meant cleaning the house, and that would have be harder that the streak," he jokes.
Why has he kept going all these years? "I don't know," he says. "After a while, just the fact that you've got it going, keeps you going."
Vincent keeps a daily log in which he records a lot of personal information, including details of all his daily runs. In four or five years, he has logged more than 4,000 miles, and for 10 straight years he ran 3,500 miles or more a year. There are probably 15 years in which his mileage has reached or exceeded 3,500 miles and most of the rest of the years he has run 2,500 miles or more. "I have records that go back to 1974," he says.
In total, Vincent has run about 200 marathons with a personal best of 2:39 and about 20 sub-2:50 times. "These days you can add nearly an hour to that," he says. His ultras have been confined to trails. They include a 7:19 50-miler at Punxsutawney, a 13:45 at the Laurel Highlands 70-miler and 21:26 at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.
As his mileage indicates, Vincent is a good runner though. Now 48 years old, he began running at age 20 and his streak began three years later, on April 23, 1975, two days after he ran the Boston Marathon in a time of 3:17. The Boston field was exploding at the time and qualifying times were being pushed down each year. He felt he had to become more serious as a runner in order to qualify each year.
So he started running "more regularly" and then found he had gone 60 days straight. Soon it was a full year. Now it's 25 years, and like most streakers he hardly knows where the time has gone.
An old running friend, Joe Keller, likes to joke that streaking is a waste of time. "The Lord created the world in six days and on the seventh day He rested," he tells Vincent. "If it was good enough for Him, it's good enough for you!"
Vincent laughs, but he doesn't stop running.
There have been some close calls over the years. On one or two occasions he has had to get out of the shower late at night and go out and run. "I'd say to myself, 'What have I run today?' and then realize, 'Oh, my God, I haven't! And I'd have to go out the door and do it."
The "most dramatic" day of the streak came after a bicycle accident when he had been hospitalized for surgery on an elbow that had been broken in several places. He was banged up pretty badly and in a lot of pain but managed to sneak out of the hospital and get in a run -- "15 or 20 minutes of the most painful running I have ever done."
But that was not the "toughest" run of the streak. The absolute hardest came the day after he ran Western States in 1986 and lost seven toenails in the process. His feet were so mangled that his socks had to be cut off after the race. Still, he went out and ran the next day -- for 29 agonizing minutes. "I don't know how far I went," he says.
Such stories inevitably bring out the critics of streaking. But Vincent pays little attention. "The truth of the matter is that you've got to honour yourself if you're going to keep a streak going for a long time," he says. "You have to take care of yourself. Yes, you run through injuries when you have to, but you have to know yourself. You have to know what you are doing. That's what they don't understand."
The streak has been the most constant thing in Vincent's life. He lived in Boston when he became a runner. His streak began when he returned home to he area where he grew up. He ran a running store for a while and has changed careers several times. Today he is a sales rep for a small import company. In his spare time he still organizes a tough 30Km race called the Escarpment Run from Windham to Haines Falls, New York. It dates back to 1977. And somewhere, sometime, he runs every day.
How long will the streak last?
Vincent has no idea but he hopes it will last a while yet. "Someday it's going to end," he says. "I hope it's on my terms, but who knows? I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. What happens will happen. I'll take it a day at a time."
Dick Vincent became a 25-year streaker right on schedule on Sunday, April 23, 2000, "I just walked in the door from running the marathon course solo," he reports. "It went pretty well as I didn't run too hard and finished just over 4 hours. The most difficult part was that there was a head wind going out and then it switched for the return trip, and with the light rain, it made for a cold day (40 degrees F.)
"But it is in the bank and I seem none the worse for the wear. I ran most all of it alone so I had to stop at two stores and buy a drink, not an easy chore to find one open on Easter Sunday."
-- This article originally appeared on the website UltraMarathon World.
Entry in the Escarpment Trail Run, held every July near Palenville, New York, requires certain qualifications. To learn more, visit the Escarpment Trail Run home page.
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